Ky. officers learn precautions for cleaning up meth


By Burton Speakman
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW, Ky. — Agencies from throughout the area were part of an effort this week to learn how to clean up methamphetamine laboratories.

Officials from the Barren Edmonson County Drug Task Force, Glasgow Police Department, Barren County Sheriff's Office, Tompkinsville Police Department and Edmonson County Sheriff's Office attended the certification classes. The officers were taught what type of chemicals are used in meth production, their dangers and the appropriate way to discard of those toxic materials.

There have been more that 400 meth labs found thus far in 2009 in Kentucky, said Sgt. Gerald Wilson, from Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement/Special Investigations West.

The rise in meth laboratories in Kentucky corresponds with a tightening of security at the U.S.-Mexico border, he said. The shift has allowed less illegal drugs into the county, which has left local residents growing more marijuana and making their own meth.

"People have realized that within the allowed 9 grams of pseudoephedrine (that can legally be purchased each month), they can make enough meth to get themselves and their buddy high," Wilson said.

Nearly all meth produced now is for individual use, he said.

This fact combined with the methods of producing meth makes it all the more important for law enforcement, firefighters and even county and road employees to know what to look for as part of a meth laboratory, Wilson said.

"They're making meth now in 2-liter Coke bottles," he said. "If a child came by and saw that and took a drink they would essentially be drinking Coleman fuel."

The fact is that currently a lot of meth-producing materials are being found by road or county workers because they're just being dumped alongside the road, Wilson said.

It's good to see that this many departments believe its important to know how to safely dispose of the materials used in meth production, said Jeff Scruggs, director of the task force.

"This is especially important in a year where we have a run on meth labs, like this year," he said.

The Tompkinsville Police Department has already sent two officers through meth laboratory certification, said Officer Josh Page, who will be the third to receive certification.

"From what I'm being told, we plan to send a whole lot more officers through it," he said.

There are not a lot a meth laboratories found within the city, but it's something the department wants to do, Page said.

The cleaning up of meth laboratories is something that has become increasingly done on the local level, Scruggs said.

"At first the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency) took care of labs. They contracted with somebody to clean them up. Then the state police did it and now its seems, especially in Kentucky, the state police wants local officials, particulary drug task forces, to do meth lab clean up," he said.

In Barren County, Shannon White, deputy emergency management director and solid waste coordinator, has the credentials to teach classes on meth laboratory clean up, Scruggs said.

This class was the result of an effort to get more people locally who know how to handle the chemicals used in meth production. The goal is to make this sort of training part of an ongoing effort, he said.

This week's training was at the Haywood Volunteer Fire Department.

Copyright 2009 Glasgow Daily Times

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